Saratoga Springs City Council 1

The Saratoga Springs City Council meets on Tuesday, July 21. 

Saratoga Springs officials are looking to implement a policy for accessory dwelling units in single-family homes following a bill passed by Utah lawmakers that regulates ADUs statewide.

House Bill 82, which the Utah State Legislature approved in March, modifies state law related to single-family housing, including requiring “municipalities and counties to classify certain accessory dwelling units as a permitted land use” and prohibiting them “from establishing restrictions or requirements for certain accessory dwelling units with limited exceptions.”

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, and Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Lehi, defines an ADU as an accessory dwelling unit created “within a primary dwelling … for the purpose of offering a long-term rental of 30 consecutive days or longer.”

It also states that cities may prohibit the creation of an internal accessory dwelling unit within a zoning district covering any area equivalent to “25% or less of the total area in the municipality that is zoned primarily for residential use.”

“As you know, accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, is something that’s been before the Legislature quite a bit in the last couple of years,” Saratoga Springs City Manager Mark Christensen told the Saratoga Springs City Council during a work session on Tuesday.

Christensen called the bill “an interesting bit of legislation” and noted that it would allow for ADUs to be located anywhere in the city “unless we take action to kind of narrowly scope where those ADUs will be.”

If the city doesn’t pass an ordinance regulating ADUs by September, “then it automatically defaults and allows ADUs everywhere in the city,” according to Christensen.

“What we wanted to do tonight was get your feedback on the things you’re most interested in, and then come back with a policy, or come back with more discussion for us to be able to craft that in such a way that it makes sense,” the city manager said.

Mayor Jim Miller recommended that the city craft a policy that only allows ADUs in single-family homes that have not been built yet.

“I think the homes that are here are ones we should try to carve out to protect those property rights,” Miller told the city council.

Councilmember Chris Porter agreed, noting that only allowing ADUs in new homes would allow time to build “enough parking” and “wider streets.”

“I think we need to get an idea of what percentage (of homes with ADUs) we’re likely to actually see,” he added. “I know that a lot of times we like to speak in hyperbole (and say) that everybody’s going to do this, but, you know, I’m never going to rent out my basement.”

Councilmember Michael McOmber recommended that officials discuss the policy with the fire marshal to make sure it addresses “safety concern(s),” such as having multiple access points for the ADUs.

“Because secondary access is critical,” McOmber said, “especially if you’re adding four more people to a house.”

Christensen pointed out that Saratoga Springs is in a “unique” situation because of its young and rapidly growing population, unlike other cities like Sandy and Salt Lake City whose populations have “dwindled down.”

“Our issue’s a little bit sensitive, because, right now, we have an incredibly high population per household,” said Christensen. “Because we have a lot of young families with a lot of kids.”

Christensen said he would start drafting an ADU policy for the Saratoga Springs City Council to review and discuss in a later meeting.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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